The Refugee Council is calling on the UK Government to attend a global resettlement pledging conference for Syria’s refugees and to commit to helping more refugees find safety in the UK.
On 9 December, governments will gather in Geneva as UNHCR issues an urgent plea for 100,000 more resettlement places in 2015/2016.
Since setting up a special resettlement scheme for Syrian refugees in January, the UK Government has declared it only anticipates helping resettle ‘several hundred people’ in 2014-2016.
The Government has so far refused to increase the number of people it will offer safety to, despite the fact that Syria is still haemorrhaging refugees.
Over 3 million people have now fled as more people try to escape the fighting and advance of ISIS, with September seeing the biggest single outflow of refugees since the conflict began. The countries neighbouring Syria are sheltering around 96% of the conflict’s refugees and are under unimaginable strain.
So far, Germany has agreed to take on 20,000 Syrian refugees; Austria is offering 1,500 places and Sweden has pledged 1,200 places. The USA expects to welcome thousands of people a year for many years. Austria, Germany, Ireland, and Switzerland have also taken extra measures to provide Syrians trapped in the region with a safe and legal route to join their loved ones in Europe.
Refugee Council Chief Executive Maurice Wren said: “This pledging conference provides the British Government with a unique opportunity to show the same leadership in refugee resettlement as it has shown in its contribution to the wider relief effort.
“The UK’s current plan to resettle just several hundred people over a three year period is a woefully inadequate response to one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes the world has witnessed in generations.
“Syria’s neighbours have not had the luxury of choice about the numbers of refugees they offer safe haven to. The UK must stand in solidarity alongside these countries and pledge to open our doors to our fair share of refugees.”
The pledging conference on 9 December presents a real opportunity to call on the UK to offer safe haven to more people.
Photo courtesy of UNHCR